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General Requirements for Cosmetics

Cosmetic products are subject to the provisions of the Next link will take you to another Web site Food and Drugs Act and its Next link will take you to another Web site Cosmetic Regulations regarding composition, safety, labelling and advertising. Additionally they are subject to the provisions of the Next link will take you to another Web site Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Next link will take you to another Web site Regulations.

The three most significant features of the Canadian cosmetic regulatory system are mandatory notification of all cosmetic products, safety of ingredients and products, and product labelling.

The Guidelines for Cosmetics Manufacturers, Importers and Distributors provide an overview of the requirements for the sale of cosmetics in Canada.

Notification of Cosmetic Products

Notification is a mandatory requirement for the sale of cosmetics in Canada, according to section 30 of the Cosmetic Regulations. This entails submitting a fully completed Cosmetic Notification Form (CNF) to Health Canada within the first 10 days that a cosmetic is available for sale. The completed CNF provides specific product information, including:

  • address and contact information of associated companies;
  • purpose of the cosmetic (for example: shampoo, skin cleanser);
  • form of the cosmetic (for example: gel, solid, liquid);
  • ingredients of the cosmetic; and
  • concentration or concentration range of the ingredients.

There is no fee associated with the cosmetic notification process. Failure to notify may result in a product being refused entry into Canada or removed from sale. Notification is not a product evaluation nor an approval procedure, and acceptance of the completed CNF by Health Canada does not constitute in any way agreement that the product is classified as a cosmetic or is in compliance with all regulatory requirements.

Please review the Guide for Completing Notification Forms to ensure the CNFs are completed correctly.

Cosmetic Notification Form (CNF) and Guide

For further information, please contact the Cosmetics Program.

Safety of Cosmetic Products and Ingredients: Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist

To assist companies in ensuring the safety of cosmetic products, Health Canada publishes the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist - an official list of prohibited and restricted cosmetic ingredients. The Hotlist takes its basis from the following sections of legislation:

  • Section 2 of the Food and Drugs Act (definitions of cosmetic vs. drug),
  • Section 16 of the Food and Drugs Act (safety), and
  • Section 24 of the Cosmetic Regulations (cosmetics presenting an 'avoidable hazard' must carry a warning on the label)

Section 16 of the Food and Drugs Act states that no person shall sell a cosmetic product that has in it any substance that may injure the health of the user when the cosmetic is used according to its customary method.

No company may sell a cosmetic product in Canada if it does not meet section 16 of the Food and Drugs Act or the Cosmetic Regulations. Specific criteria to meet this legislation are outlined in the Hotlist, in terms of prohibited ingredients, concentration restrictions, labelling and packaging.

Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist

Please note that the Hotlist is not exhaustive. Contact the Cosmetics Program if you are in doubt about an ingredient.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for Cosmetic Products

Health Canada encourages all cosmetic manufacturers to adhere to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs).

Labelling of Cosmetic Products

A cosmetic label contains information that helps consumers make informed choices about the products they use, how to safely use the product, and how to contact the manufacturer if questions arise.

The labelling of cosmetics is governed by the Next link will take you to another Web site Food and Drugs Act, the Next link will take you to another Web site Cosmetic Regulations, the Next link will take you to another Web site Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act, and the Next link will take you to another Web site Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations.

To comply with these requirements, cosmetic labels must supply:

  • an ingredient list;
  • the identity of the product, in English and French;
  • a statement of net quantity in metric units of measurement;
  • the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor; and
  • directions, warnings or cautions, in English and French where necessary for safe use of the product.

Specific labelling requirements also exist for the safe use of certain products (for example, hair dyes and aerosols) and certain ingredients as stated in the Cosmetic Regulations and outlined in the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist.

Ingredients must be listed on all cosmetic products, using recognized names from the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system as found in the International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook.

General Labelling of Cosmetics

The Guidelines for the Labelling of Cosmetics is intended to help manufacturers interpret the labelling and packaging requirements for cosmetics specified in the Cosmetic Regulations and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations. It is designed to assist industry in the preparation of labels that comply with Canadian regulatory requirements for cosmetics.

Cosmetic Advertising and Labelling Claims

The Guidelines for Cosmetic Advertising and Labelling Claims document outlines acceptable and unacceptable cosmetic claims for advertising and product labels. These Guidelines are designed to help in the development of advertising messages, including those made on or inside product packaging, that comply with Canadian cosmetic regulatory requirements.

Ingredient Labelling for Cosmetics in Canada

All cosmetics sold in Canada must contain the list of ingredients on the label using the INCI (International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients) system.

The Guide to Cosmetic Ingredient Labelling has been prepared to provide an overview of the INCI labelling requirements of the Cosmetic Regulations under the Food and Drugs Act.

The International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) Compliance and Enforcement Policy provides guidance on enforcement of the Cosmetic Regulations pertaining to mandatory ingredient labelling of cosmetic products.

Related Ingredient Labelling Resources

Hazard Symbols and Statements for Labelling of Pressurized Containers

Labelling Requirements for Cosmetics in Pressurized Containers provides a summary of the labelling requirements for aerosol cosmetics sold in pressurized containers.

The Official Method for the Determination of Flame Projection is used to determine the flame projection of flammable cosmetics in pressurized containers:

Related Resources

Other Legislation that May Apply to Cosmetics and Cosmetic Ingredients